Living a Month in Los Angeles for less than $1,000 and No Car
Flight, Housing, Food, and Transportation
It wasn’t too long ago that I set off on my dream to live and work in Los Angles as a model. Cary and I didn’t plan on staying a month but it kind of just happened. Why not right? It’s been almost a year and it’s finally time to tell our story.
I knew I could do it and I knew it would be hard. I just didn’t know at the time how hard it would really be.
We talked it out, saved up several hundred dollars and booked our tickets. If you time it right one-way tickets is between $60-$80 on Southwest. We made the first step and it seemed like we could take on the world. I recommend traveling with someone if possible. You feel safer and you can keep each other motivated to achieve your goals. Plus, he being a Photographer and I being a model, we made the perfect team.
I knew when we got there a good friend would allow the crashing of couch and floor to happen for a week or two. We were beyond thankful but it’s tricky. You don’t want to overstay your welcome and you want to respect their space but you secretly want to stay as long as you can to save money. It’s all about balance.
Housing – CHECK…
So before we get any further, do you think it’s possible? Can someone live in LA for a month under $1000 all expenses?
So there was the plan. That’s all I really had. Crazy right? How the hell could someone just book a one-way ticket and have only one place to stay for a few days? Well, that was us. I’d like to say that I was trying to combat my compulsive need to plan by being the anti-planner, but in reality, everything usually has a way of working out even if it’s the hard way.
I flew in first, it was the cheapest ticket I could find flying southwest (bags fly free and this model packed a full wardrobe with shoes). Later, I will regret this decision of packing two bags. Cary flew in later that week because his ticket was reserved by a client.
Having to utilize resources, we decided that buying groceries for the week would be better than eating out (a little more to the plan). Plus the place we were staying had a fridge so we didn’t have to “camp” and eat granola and nonperishables. It was also an amazing perk that she was walking distance to the grocery store. So off I went.
This was a good start. This got the morning and snacking out of the way and even allowed for a meal out of it were to happen. Which it did, mainly just pizza. I mean more pizza than I would ever want to eat again. No offense Dominos, You kept the large carry-out deals on lock.
Food – CHECK
Since we didn’t have a car we had to rely on friends and public transit.
I never thought I would say this but, if it wasn’t for social media we would have spent way more money on transportation. Through social media, we met friends, clients, and people who wanted to collaborate who already lived in the city. Meaning, they have cars. Again, another tricky situation. You can’t just dial them up every time you needed a ride. That would just be using them. However, if you were all wanting to go the same place it just made sense.
The place we were staying was in north Hollywood and a hub for where we worked and played. Along with the grocery store, it was conveniently located next to a train station. I will admit I was nervous to take the train alone, but it was a fear I had to break quickly if I wanted to get to and from jobs and castings. I was also terrified of buses. They had too many stops and too many variables that I wasn’t ready to take on.
Cost of trains
- One way:$0.75 – $1.00 depending on the train.
- Day passes: $1.75
- Week: I didn’t even buy one
Navigating the trains turned out to be a breeze with google maps app. Beware, in the tunnels, you will lose service.
The next form of transportation was through the apps lyft and uber. Without them, this trip would have been a different experience
Most of the time taking the train plus a little walking is the easiest way. What happens when you have a 30min walk in the rain or heat from the bus station to your location? You order a car.
Personally, I prefer lyft. They offer amazing discounts all the time via email and the app and according to the drivers, the rides are cheaper and they get paid higher per ride than Uber. I already had the app downloaded to my phone from SXSW in Austin, TX. The majority of the rides were split equally between Cary and I. There were a few nights when the split went 3-4 ways with our friends when we went to events, further helping our wallets.
Although we traveled together, we would end up at different ends of the city throughout the day. If I wasn’t in a hurry to get back, I would take lyft line or uber pool. That $15 ride just went down to $5 but added an extra 25 minutes to the trip.
Upon my arrival in Los Angeles, I had never used Uber on my phone. I saved it knowing that they would give me a few free rides up to a certain dollar amount. This was a game changer for those trips from North Hollywood to Beverly Hills for agency meetings. Uber didn’t offer many free rides or discounts like lyft did. We had a few other friends had never used lyft before. I sent them a referral link for each of us to receive free rides with new accounts.
Transportation – CHECK
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Yes, you read again.
Everything seemed ok for the first few weeks but we were getting close to overstaying our welcome where we were staying. It was time to find another place to stay. We took back to social media and messaged, tweeted, posted and text everyone we knew. We needed a place to stay again. Searches for an airbnb, hotel, hostel, almost anything would do if it was safe and fit in our small budget. Looking back on it now things didn’t feel so stressful, but in reality, we were losing it.
We took to our phones and social media again and contacted everyone we knew and everyone we just met on leads for a place to stay. A few of our friends were offering a place for a night here and then maybe another night the next week. As much as we wanted to accept, it would mean we would be commuting to different sides of LA using Lyft or Uber with all of our luggage each day. It would be more hassle than help.
It came down to the point of us researching the cheapest ways home. Going home would have been a complete waste since we would be turning down paid work and important meetings with clients and agents. Almost accepting defeat, Cary received a message saying that they just moved into their house and had an open room to spare for as long as we needed/a week or two but it was almost 20-30 mins away. With LA traffic that could mean an hour or more. We didn’t have many other options, so we made arrangements to meet up and get our key.
Our lives felt saved from a terrible lack of planning.
With what was left of our money we bought two tickets home.
You can see that it is definitely possible to live in Los Angeles for under $1,000, but it might be one of the most stressful months of your life.
Please leave us some of your thoughts, concerns, or inspirations about living in Los Angeles in the comments.